The Armenians of Springfield November 30, 2015 09:16
The Simpsons has been running for 26 years and throughout that time a small number of unexpected Armenian references have been made. Here is a rundown of some of the familiar and not so familiar Armenian residents of Springfield.
Principal Skinner (Armen Tamzarian)
In a 1997 episode titled "The Principal and the Pauper”, Seymour Skinner begins to celebrate his twentieth anniversary as principal of Springfield Elementary School, when a man arrives claiming that Skinner has assumed his identity. Principal Skinner admits that his real name is Armen Tamzarian and that he had thought the true Seymour Skinner, a friend from the army, had died in the Vietnam War. Armen leaves Springfield, but is persuaded to return later in the episode.
The episode was written by Ken Keeler. Keeler borrowed the name Armen Tamzarian from a claims adjuster who had assisted him after a car accident when he moved to Los Angeles. However, the real Tamzarian (now a California Superior Court Judge) was unaware his name was being used until after the episode aired. Keeler said he later received a "curtly phrased" letter from Tamzarian, who wanted to know why his name appeared in the episode. Keeler feared he would face legal troubles, but afterwards, Tamzarian explained that he was simply curious and did not intend to scare anyone.
The real Armen Tamzarian
The episode is one of the most controversial episodes of The Simpsons. Many fans and critics reacted negatively to the revelation that Principal Skinner, a recurring character since the first season, was an impostor. The episode has been criticized by series creator Matt Groening and by Harry Shearer, who provides the voice of Principal Skinner. Despite this, Ken Keeler considers the episode the best work he has ever done for television.
Appearing in an episode titled "Million Dollar Abie”, Dr. Egoyan is a doctor who works at a Euthanasia Clinic. The character is based on Jack Kevorkian, a renowned U.S. based Armenian American doctor who assisted in patient suicides.
In the episode, Grampa "Abe" Simpson is depressed and decides to seek the help of a doctor called Dr. Egoyan who can help him commit suicide with a suicide booth called a "diePod". Doctor Egoyan tells Grampa to reconsider, and Grampa decides that if anyone calls him in the next 24 hours, he will not go through with his plan. The call never comes and Grampa goes back to the clinic the next day.
In the episode, The Simpsons family visit a cyber café named The Java Server. Homer looks at his bank account online, but is cyber-robbed by Snake, which saddens Marge because they were saving the money for their family vacation.
It’s not known if Chuck Garabedian is based on anyone in particular. A Los Angeles based fine artist and teacher by the name of Charles Garabedian may have been the inspiration behind the name.
Moe is the proprietor and bartender of Moe's Tavern, a Springfield bar. Moe's personality includes a short and violent temper, which has also involved numerous suicide attempts.
In a 2012 episode titled "Lisa Goes Gaga", Moe describes himself as "half monster, half Armenian.”
Moe had previously hinted at being Armenian in "Judge Me Tender" (2010), claiming that Armenian Idol is his favorite show.
Furthermore, in "Moe Goes from Rags to Riches" (2012), an infant Moe is depicted living on Mount Everest as the son of a Yeti (make of that what you will ;-) )
Bootleg Bart Tee / Ara the Rat Throwback Edition
Introducing a modern remake of an Armenian classic. The holy grail of all vintage Armenian tees, this Bootleg Bart design was first conceived in 1990 in Detroit at the height of Bartmania by Harry Berberian, a stand up comic and producer who has worked with the likes of Howard Stern and appeared on MTV and the Jerry Springer show. The global phenomenon of Bartmania saw the star of The Simpsons featured on clothing and products in every market across the world, solidifying the animated sitcom into a cultural institution. This tongue-in-cheek t-shirt was part of that worldwide craze.